Fakir Hassen shared this extract from his book, ’35 Years At The SABC’ on the 34th birthday of LotusFM in 2017.
Here you can have a read on his viewpoint regarding the local music policy that crippled the listenership of the indian lifestyle station during the reign of Hlaudi Motsoeneng at the SABC.
A question I am often asked is what I think of the 90% music quota on Lotus FM. I have been widely quoted in print and electronic media about my view on this right from when it first started, but here is another extract from my book ’35 Years at the SABC’ explaining my view and the action I took on it.
“With this passion for music, a question I was repeatedly asked during my last few months at the SABC was what I thought of the decision by COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng to introduce a 90% local content quota on all SABC stations, including Lotus FM. Let me immediately answer this by saying that I am totally supportive of increasing local content in South Africa and have always been.
However, I believe that that this should be phased in over a period in tandem with developing and growing the local music industry. This could be achieved through increasing projects such as the Song Contest and recording of local bands that I have outlined earlier.
At present, the only people benefiting from the 90% quota enforcement are a handful of Indian singers whose recordings are played almost ad nauseam as they bask in the glory of collecting more royalties. I even had to suffer the ignominy, as an SABC employee, of being told by management and staff of the three most popular community stations in South Africa, Eastwave FM and Lenz FM in Lenasia and Radio Hindvani in Durban, to thank my boss for driving listeners in droves to their stations.
In discussion on the demoralising effect that this was having on the station’s staff and management, I promised to talk to the COO about why this would not work for Lotus FM. I kept my promise in a brief opportunity that I was granted to raise it. I pointed out that in my decade-long tenure as Manager of then Radio Lotus, and even after that in my international travels, I had encountered radio stations targeting the local Indian communities in countries as diverse as the UK and US in the West and Mauritius and Singapore in the East.
Outside of India, there was no station, and I believe there still is none, in the diaspora, that was not reliant for its music content on India. I have also not found a single one with more than 15% local content, as there was hardly a local Indian music industry anywhere that I have personally been or had contact with.
To his credit, Hlaudi gave me a hearing and then said that it was “a done deal” that all SABC stations, including Lotus FM, should abide by the ruling. Hlaudi even mentioned this interaction when he spoke at my farewell function at the SABC in May 2016. There was therefore unfortunately little else I could do to convince him that Lotus FM needed a differential approach to local content quotas because of its uniqueness.”
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Published with permission from the author, Fakir Hassen